AAM-N-5 Meteor

The AAM-N-5 Meteor was an early American air-to-air missile, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Bell Aircraft for the United States Navy. Designed for launch from carrier-based aircraft, the program proceeded to the flight testing stage before being cancelled.

AAM-N-5 Meteor
TypeAir-to-air missile
Place of originUnited States
Service history
In service1948-1953
Used byUnited States Navy
Production history
DesignerMassachusetts Institute of Technology
ManufacturerBell Aircraft
Mass580 pounds (260 kg)
Length13 feet 11.25 inches (4.25 m)
 length9 feet 6 inches (2.90 m) w/out booster
Diameter8.9 inches (230 mm)

WarheadHigh explosive
Warhead weight25 pounds (11 kg)

EngineLiquid-fuel rocket
Booster: Solid-fuel rocket
Wingspan3 ft 2.8 in (0.986 m)
25 miles (40 km)
Flight altitudeMax at launch, 10 miles (16 km)
SpeedMach 2+
Semi-active radar homing


Development of the Meteor was loosely defined at first, with both surface-to-air and air-to-air missiles being studied by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology under a contract awarded in November 1945 by the U.S. Navy's Bureau of Ordnance; the decision was made to construct the air-to-air version for testing, with construction of the airframe being assigned to Bell Aircraft.[1][2]

As built, the AAM-N-5 Meteor was a two-stage missile, utilizing semi-active radar homing;[2] the first stage consisted of a solid-fueled rocket booster, with the main sustainer stage utilizing liquid fuels.[3] It had a range of 25 miles (40 km), and reached speeds of over Mach 2,[1] with some sources claiming a top speed of Mach 3.[4] Control was provided by cruciform fins.[5]

Flight testing of the AAM-N-5 began in July 1948 at the Naval Ordnance Test Station,[2] with Douglas JD-1 Invader utility aircraft acting as the launching platform. Starting in 1951, test launches were conducted using Douglas F3D Skyknight nightfighters as carrier aircraft;[1] fifteen launches were also made from ground launchers at NOTS' China Lake range.[3] However, in 1953 the program was cancelled, as better missiles were becoming available.[1]

An advanced version of Meteor, Meteor II, was assigned to be built by United Aircraft; it was intended to have a solid-fueled booster rocket with a ramjet sustainer stage, but was not built.[3]


  1. Parsch 2003
  2. Friedman 1982, p.275.
  3. Babcock 2008, p.20-21.
  4. "Aircraft Armament, Part 2: Missiles and Projectiles". Flight International, 28 January 1955, p.118.
  5. Ordway and Wakeford 1960, p.187.
  • Babcock, Elizabeth (2008). Magnificent Mavericks: transition of the Naval Ordnance Test Station from rocket station to research, development, test and evaluation center, 1948-58. History of the Navy at China Lake, California. 3. Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. ISBN 978-0945274568.
  • Friedman, Norman (1982). U.S. Naval Weapons: every gun, missile, mine, and torpedo used by the U.S. Navy from 1883 to the present day. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 978-0-87021-735-7.
  • Ordway, Frederick Ira; Ronald C. Wakeford (1960). International Missile and Spacecraft Guide. New York: McGraw-Hill. ASIN B000MAEGVC.
  • Parsch, Andreas (2003). "MIT/Bell AAM-N-5 Meteor". Directory of U.S. Military Rockets and Missiles Appendix 1: Early Missiles and Drones. designation-systems.net. Retrieved 21 January 2013.

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